I created Discover Your Indonesia with the ultimate goal of sharing the best of Indonesia from a local perspective. I know that I am still far from my ultimate goal, however I recently read about a project called Withlocals, which in my opinion is a great concept that tries to connect travellers with locals. So why do I think it is so important to connect travellers with locals directly? First, because most travellers really want to have the most authentic travel experiences. They want to eat the best local foods, do things with locals, learn about cultures. In short, experiences that are not in most travel agents brochures. The second reason is.. come on! locals know the best places and things to do. They know exactly what every traveller wants to experience (those hidden away spots that most tourists have never heard about)!
Digging more into the project, I found out that Indonesia is one of Withlocals 6 launch countries. Within Indonesia they plan to start with Bali and Yogyakarta, two places that I really love. As a tourist myself, I do not want to experience the same things as all the other tourists. For example, Yogyakarta is not about visiting just Borobudur or Prambanan (even though those temple are still a must 😉 ), buying Batik on Jalan Malioboro, getting a nice silver ring in Kota Gede, and other touristy thing. I want to know more about the city and experience more than that. I want to visit Borobudur, with a local companion who can explain passionately about the history of the temple and what it means to locals. I want a person who can tell me about a great place to see Borobudur at sunrise. I want to make my own silver ring or paint a t-shirt with a Batik motif and not buy some mass produced tourism trinket. Simply put, all of those activities would be even better if I could do it with a local friend or local guides in Indonesia.
This program made me remember of my good friend, a young man, who decided to learn more about Batik and then started his own home industry to make it successful. I have now found out that he now runs Batik courses for travellers who are interested in making Batik design for themselves. He does not have the money to run an advertising campaign and so he uses the old fashioned system, word of mouth. This is why I think programs like Withlocals could be so great! If you are one of the kind of tourists who would be interested in this kind of travel, or even if you want to be a local guide, why don’t you join this excellent project and get ready to receive the mutual benefits of travel. For these kinds of projects are about changing the tourism industry, empowering local communities and making friendship and bonds that cross national borders.
Note: All the pictures by Discover Your Indonesia